Top 5 Ways to Clean Algae from Your Fish Tank

Top 5 Ways to Clean Algae from Your Fish Tank

Algae is a natural part of the aquarium ecosystem because it helps to purify the water from toxic waste chemicals and serves as a food source for algae-eating fish and invertebrates. However, most people see it as an unwelcome guest since too much algae can obstruct your view of the fish tank and slow down healthy plant growth. Let’s talk about 5 easy methods for cleaning algae off your aquarium walls and decorations.

1. Use Tools to Manually Remove Algae

Because it is quick and easy, you can remove algae using your hands. Let’s now talk about the best tools that you should have. If algae is coating your aquarium walls and making it hard to see your fish, an algae scrubber is the simplest way to wipe off the algae. The gentle sponge is made from non-toxic melamine foam, and will not scratch acrylic and glass. Mag-Float Glass cleaner with matching blades is a good choice if you have trouble scraping away tough algae like green spots. These glass-safe blades can easily cut through green spots algae like a hot knife through butter. This will save you a lot of time and effort when it is about tank maintenance. (Mag-Float Acrylic Cleaner is required for acrylic fish tanks.

You can use an algae scrubber to remove algae from aquarium walls, so you can see your fish and plants clearly.

For cleaning hard-to reach areas, aquarium decorations, hardscape, or plant leaves, a simple toothbrush can be a great tool. You can get rid of certain types of hair alga by picking up the algae strands using the toothbrush bristles. The toothbrush bristles will then be used to twist the toothbrush until the algae is shaped like spaghetti. If you notice blue-green algae, brown diatom, or other algae covering the substrate, an aquarium siphon can be used to vacuum it.

Swirl your toothbrush through a massed of hair algae to quickly remove it from plants, hardscape or fish tank decor.

2. Algae-Eating Animals are here to help

Many people look for an algae eater when algae grows too much in their fish tanks. They are second on the list because they only eat certain types of algae, and may not be capable of cleaning your entire aquarium. However, they are a good second line of defense that can assist you in the fight against algae. Our top picks for nano tanks are nerite snails and amano shrimp. For larger tanks, get some bristlenose plecos or Siamese algae eaters to cover more area. You can also read more about the top 10 algae eaters in freshwater aquariums.

The Siamese alga eater is a great member of the clean-up crew for larger fish tanks. However, it’s important to not accidentally get its aggressive cousin, the Chinese algae eater.


3. Remove Excess Organics in the Tank

Algae are adaptable and will eat any nitrogen compounds found in fish poop, fish waste, uncooked fish food or unhealthy leaves. If your aquarium is fairly new and not well-established yet, it helps to eliminate any sources of nutrients that algae can take advantage of. A pair of scissors can be used to remove any algae-covered or dead leaves from a tank that is planted. Use a siphon to suck out rotting gunk from the ground, and feed the fish less if you find that they aren’t eating everything you give them within a few minutes.

Blue-green algae loves to grow in areas where there is debris or “dead zone” (i.e., a slow current or a lot of ornaments or hardscape). You can improve water flow by moving decorations, filling gaps with substrate or installing a stronger filter.

4. Balance lighting and nutrients

Ultimately, the most effective way to get rid of algae is addressing the root problem that is causing the algae to outcompete your plants. Algae has the same resources (e.g. lighting and nutrients) that plants use to photosynthesize. If there are too many or too few of these building block, they can grow at an uncontrollable pace.

We recommend that you use an outlet timer to balance your tank. This will turn on the light for 6-8 hours each day. Then, increase or decrease your nutrients as necessary. If the nitrate level is above 50 ppm, do a water change to dilute the amount of nitrogen waste. If the nitrate level is below 20 ppm, dose the tank with Easy Green all-in-one fertilizer until the water reaches 20 ppm nitrate. Wait 2-3 weeks between each modification you make in lighting or nutrients levels so that you can see what impact it has on your plants and adjust accordingly. It is impossible to eliminate all algae from your plants. Therefore, you should try to minimize the amount of it that you can.

5. Treat with an Algae Inhibitor

Chemical treatments are a delicate matter. You need to find a solution that will kill the algae but not harm the fish and animals. Liquid carbon is commonly sold as a fertilizer for aquarium plants, but it is more accurately an algae inhibitor that is known to reduce algae growth. Easy Carbon is our brand name of liquid carbon. It is safe to use on fish and invertebrates and comes with an easy-to-use pump-head dispenser to quickly dose your fish tanks. To directly spray Easy Carbon on black beard alga (BBA), you can use a pipette. This is the most difficult type of algae to eliminate. Read the complete article for more information on liquid carbon.

Easy Carbon is effective against persistent algae outbreaks like BBA. To allow the chemical’s “soaking” to take effect, turn off the filter for a few seconds before you apply it directly.

Chemical treatments are last on our list because we believe that they can be most beneficial after you have balanced the nutrients and lighting in your aquarium. You can’t use algicides in your tank if you don’t do the above four steps. Your algae growth will continue and the chemical will have minimal to no effect. You can read our article about the 6 most common types and how to stop algae growth.